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Claude Williams - Page 2


When Chic Pellegrini first showed me the trench picture he had, it didn't look familiar to me.   Now after having time to piece things together, I realize I probably was not blind, but at  the wrong angle to view it.  The few glimpses I got of Star in daylight I was working in a hole located down the hill toward star and I would say it wasn't far from where Bob Brandon took those two pictures. (Now one good panorama.) 
 

Panorama view looking North from the left (west) flank of OP Harry towards Star made from two pictures stitched by together James Jarboe

 
I and another man were digging away when we heard 2 or 3 mortar rounds (61mm) stair-stepping up the hill.  There was a 12 x 12 timber lying in the hole and I briefly thought about whether that would offer much protection in case a round came in the hole.   Our gut feeling was we should get out and find a bunker to wait it out. We went up the hill and crawled in one.  We planned to stay until the rounds  stopped. By this time it was getting dark and the platoon sergeant, Dewey Gosnell came by and told us to go with him.   Since we went back another way, by a trench, I was never real sure that we were taken back to the same hole where we had been.  Sgt Gosnell was talking to a Puerto Rican, Francisco Negron-Perez, who was digging in the hole when I remember a flash and both those guys were hit.  I was stunned enough that I figured something totally different happened.   I had seen three 3.5 Bazooka rounds on top of a shelf in the trench as we came up earlier.  My first thought was they had been set off.  I had thought about such a thing happening when I saw them. 

Years later I realized that this happened on  7  May  53.  (General Orders Number 3, dated 10 May 53,  Purple Heart Awarded to sixteen men from Co C, 10th Engineer Combat Battalion.)   I got my copy from Chic Pellegrini,  who was wounded along with several others, 9 May 53 while on the Napalm Detail.

I had earlier been on the Napalm Detail and had taken part in digging in the 55 gal.drums.  I also helped to transfer napalm from 5 gal. cans to the drums. These were placed over to the right front and down some distance from the front trench and past the concertina wire. My next visit to the napalm  job was in daylight, (o/a 6 Jun 53) when Lt. Alan Lichtenberg asked me to help find the drums so they could be armed.  I and another man accompanied Lt. Eugene Markle in his jeep.  We stopped at the 65th Reg. HQ Bunker as Lt. Markle spoke with a Major, as I recall.  We viewed a 3 dimensional map like I never saw before or after.  (In talking with Gene many years later he said there was a change in units on that day.)  Records indicate the 15th took over in place of the 65th Reg. in anticipation  of an expected CCF attack.

We finished locating and arming the drums, running electrical wires to a bunker with a battery placed there so the infantry could fire any drum it desired.  (Gene also remembered going back and telling Lt. Lichtenberg that he had reservations about the way they should be fired.)

According to Alan Lichtenberg many years later, he and Lt. Francis X. Riley took some men up on 10 Jun 53 and improved the firing method by connecting to a telephone.  He told of them finishing up and getting their guys off the hill before the trumpets were heard and the infantry set off the napalm. Two other men I know say they witnessed it, Jerry Cunningham and John Rohrig, both from the 15th Reg.  I had wondered for years, so had Gene Markle,  if  the installation worked  as planned.


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©Copyright 2002, Claude Williams.  All rights reserved
Photo ©Copyright 2002, Bob Brandoni.  All rights reserved